LYNN — Sarah Sirois says her father, Rob, was a U.S. Marine. Then, she quickly corrects herself.
“He is a Marine,” she says. “Once you’re a Marine, you’re always a Marine.”
In the spirit of Semper Fidelis, Sirois, a senior at Classical High, has always wanted to emulate her dad and joined the United States Marine Corps. To achieve that goal, she applied for, and received, an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
“I always knew I wanted to serve my country,” said Sirois Wednesday, one day after she confirmed her appointment during a signing ceremony at Classical.
“My dad is a Marine,” she said. “I love school, and I love learning. I wanted to go to the Naval Academy for my dad. Once I looked at it, I fell in love with it. It’s been my dream for a long time.”
Sirois, who holds the city record for diving (which she set last month at the Lynn City Meet at the Lynn Tech pool), will continue to dive at Annapolis.
She began applying for the appointment her junior year, spending a week last year at the academy’s “summer seminar.”
“It was a preliminary application,” said Sirois. “That’s how they determine whether you can be an official candidate.”
The program sought to give candidates a view of what academy life was like.
“You woke up and worked out every morning,” said Sirois. “You stayed in the dorms, and you attended some classes.
“It was fun,” she said. “I loved it.”
The next process was the official nomination. She visited representatives of Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Cong. Seth Moulton. Both Warren and Moulton ended up nominating her.
“You need that to get into the academy,” she said. “That was key. That’s what I needed, and I was waiting a long time for that.”
She finally received word that she’d been nominated at the end of January, which means she went through almost an entire diving season with that hanging in the balance.
“It really didn’t bother me all that much,” she said. “I think it made me focus more.”
Getting a nomination doesn’t guarantee admission to Annapolis, but in her case it pretty much guaranteed it.
“I was recruited for diving,” she said. “So, once I got my nomination, and my application was complete, I was OK. I got a letter of assurance in September that said as long as I received a nomination, I’d get in.”
Now, she prepares for the rigors she’ll have to go through over the summer in anticipation of her first week at the academy. Sirois works out daily at Crossfit in Danvers as she awaits the end of June, when she’ll leave for “Plebe Summer,” a 6-week transition period from civilian to military life.
From there, after a parents’ weekend, she’ll transition into her freshman year.
While an appointment means free tuition and room and board, the payback for that is a 5-year commission.
Sirois, who carries a 4.4 GPA and takes three advanced-placement courses, was the Moynihan Lumber Student Athlete of the Month for January. She first became interested in diving after competing in gymnastics when she was younger.
“I did it all my life and then stopped in the eighth grade,” she said. “But my mother wanted me to be on a team, so she suggested I join the swim team.
“Don (McKenney, the city’s diving coach) had me diving, and learning dives. For some reason, I took to it very well. The gymnastics helped a lot.
“And,” she said, “the rest is history.”